Podcast #10 The Importance of Focus for Business Building

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Have you ever considered how the great masters contributed so much to our world? Think about beautiful art, grand buildings or great scientific discoveries. How did they get these things completed? Can you imagine these contributors being constantly interrupted by phones, emails, social media alerts or people with unrelated agendas? This would require the ability to multitask, the action many of us take on a daily basis. Can you imagine Leonardo DaVinci creating the Mona Lisa and the Last Supper while being constantly interrupted? There is no way we can say that the great masters engaged in multitasking, because reputable research has shown how disruptive multitasking can be when you’re trying to complete something. It’s obvious, successful masters had the unsurmountable ability to focus on one project at a time. 

We are a population of multitaskers. Travis Bradberry in “Multitasker? It might be time to break the Habit” wrote “Research conducted at Stanford University found that multitasking is less productive than doing a single thing at a time. The researchers found that people who are regularly bombarded with several streams of electronic information cannot pay attention, recall information, or switch from one job to another as well as those who complete one task at a time.” He also reported that multitasking affected your IQ tremendously. It lowered the IQ sometimes as much as 15 points. He says this is about the IQ of an 8 year old child. Can an 8 year old child build your growing business? I don’t think so. One of the most important effects of multitasking is it decreases your ability to pay attention to detail. This could be disastrous! Especially if you’re working on something with serious implications. Prepare now to eliminate multitasking from your activities if you want to be successful as you build your business.

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Lin Yutang, writer, philosopher and inventor.

Jeffrey Hayzlett in ”Why Focus Is The Number One Element of Business Success” stated “As a business leader trying to think big and act bigger, if you don’t relentlessly focus that ownership on what drives your business, create a culture that reflects who you are, and stay grounded as you make things happen, you’ll never see the true rewards of thinking big and acting bigger.” In other words, important business matters must be top of mind and given adequate attention. This is easier if your business purpose/mission is meaningful to you and you’re committed to it’s success. If you aren’t, you may be in the wrong profession or business.

Several ways to focus were offered by Dave Ramsey in “10 Tips to Maintain Focus.” I have interpreted some of Dave’s suggestions as well as others to make this list of 14 guides for developing the valuable habit of focus.

1. As related earlier, make sure your business purpose is meaningful to you.  If you are building a business that you really enjoy this will give you a great foundation for sustained focus. Are you excited about the contribution you can make to your industry? Have you discovered an exciting innovation to enhance, deliver, simplify or otherwise improve a product or service? If so, more than likely, you’re finding delight as you work on your business.

2. Design personal surroundings for achieving your goals. This will be unique to you. Some work in the mornings and some work better in the evenings. Some need complete silence for work while others like to have music playing in the background. Your system for focusing will be unique to you. Prepare your surroundings so they will be comfortable and motivating.

“You can achieve anything you desire, but not EVERYTHING you desire. Concentrate your efforts and your energy on just a few.” Michael Angier author and founder of SuccessNet

3. Create an objectives list. Understand where you are in the business building process and focus on what your next move should be. Create goals and objectives to get you to the next building point.

Many authorities suggest making a list every evening or morning of the things you would like to accomplish for the day. When doing this, you will put the most important tasks first. Then, complete the tasks one by one. This is what many highly successful people do.

4. Set certain times of day to check social media. Its often necessary to check your social media to stay abreast of things that affect you. You can set aside a certain amount of time to complete social media tasks and don’t return to them until your major goals/tasks are completed. I noticed Iphone has a tracker on it now to let you know how time you are actually spending on social media.. This could really be helpful.

5. Train your brain to focus. Realize that might be what  you need to do. Our brains have been trained to respond to a vast amount of stimuli in our technological environment. Therefore, we need to retrain our brains to focus. This might take some time. Your commitment to focus will help you develop a habit of focus. Practice concentration exercises. See: 11 exercises to Improve concentration. by Brett and Kate Mckay You tube.  Excellent!

6. Consciously ignore interruptions. This is a hard one. Your environment will play a big part in your ability to ignore interruptions. Plus, you must always make ignoring interruptions a conscious choice. If interruptions are from other people, kindly say, not now, or tell them that what you’re working on is important. Otherwise, concentration exercises may help. For example, keep a list of ideas that pop into your mind that you might want to do a goggle search on. Do this instead of instantly goggling each new thought. (I need to work on this one!) The information is out there and I want answers. But listing things to look up as you go is a great thing to do rather than instantly goggling something when you’re trying to complete a task. You could easily get way off track.

7. Strengthen your support. Involve others in your goal. Let others around you know about your need to focus and how it can benefit everyone involved. If people know ‘why’, they are more likely to help you.

8. Commit to do something toward your purpose/mission every day. Sometimes the simple act of making a list of what you want to do and setting priorities works. As you make some accomplishments toward your purpose/mission, you will notice that your knowledge of your industry gets deeper and deeper. You come closer to becoming an expert. The internet makes it easy to stay up to date on what’s happening in your chosen industry.

10. Choose a task and complete it fully. I’ve mentioned this before, but I want to emphasize it again.  Multitasking has helped us lose the valuable ability to focus. So, we must deliberately intend to work on one task at a time. If you have prioritized your objectives, you can systematically choose one aspect of an objective to work on until completed. Doing this will give you satisfaction and motivation to continue. You can also have actual facts to measure your real progress by.

11. Learn something new about your objectives everyday. Put time in your daily ritual to research your industry and check on what’s new. This will help you determine the relevance of your objectives so you won’t waste time. It’s also a good motivator to keep you going.

12. Have excellence as your goal, not mediocrity. There’s something about aiming for excellence that energizes us.  It helps you to pay attention to detail. Paying attention to detail demands intense focus.

13. Keep track of your successes. Reviewing the past helps you realize the results and the value of your focus and encourages you to move ahead. You can also reevaluate the time it took to get to the successful state and determine if the process you’re using should be adjusted or continued. Reviewing the past performance helps in many ways.

14. Reserve some of your focusing time for deep planning or big vision designing. This activity will also help you to clarify or describe with more specifics what your future state will be.  This helps sustain the motivation you need to accomplish big things. A big vision will pull you toward grand accomplishments.

Martin Boeddeker in “Powerful Productivity Approach from Jurassic Park” describes the inability to focus as the “Butterfly Effect”- a small change at one place in a complex system can lead to huge disasters in another place. He suggests that we avoid this effect by going the way of the Essentialist promoted by Greg McKeown, an inspirational Speaker and author.

“The way of the Essentialist means living by design, not by default. Instead of making choices reactively, the Essentialist deliberately distinguishes the vital few from the trivial many, eliminates the non-essentials, and then removes obstacles so the essential things have clear, smooth passage. In other words, Essentialism is a disciplined, systematic approach for determining where our highest point of contribution lies, then making execution of those things almost effortless.” This relates to the principle of Simplicity described in my podcast #6 on one of the Super Values of highly successful companies.

In conclusion, Dave Ramsey pointed to some compelling benefits of acquiring the ability to focus.

“Instead of coming home each evening exhausted and wondering where the day went, you’ll soon be feeling that you’ve accomplished more than you could have ever imagined. That’s the power of focus. It can literally transform your business and rock your world.” Dave Ramsey

Commit to developing and maintaining the focus that will grow and fortify your business.

Related: “20 Small Business Directives for Success: Do or Die”      

Also: The GeniusCore Business Building Podcast

 

 

 

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Podcast #9 Transparency Con’t

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This episode continues the discussion of the principle of “transparency”. In episode 8 we determined that transparency can help our businesses in four ways:

1.Transparency is becoming more important to everybody.

2. Transparency promotes trust. (No repeat customers without trust)

3. It helps everybody involved in your business feel important to the success of your enterprise. You let them know at different phases of your growth, how you are doing and they can see ways to help you.

4. Public knowledge of your Purpose and Values is an act of tranparency. Your Purpose and Values attract a base of customers who share or believe in the same Purpose and Values that you believe in.

I talked about Buffer as an excellent study in transparency.  I want to share 2 more contemporary businesses practicing this principle in their operations. 

“Currently, Whole Foods is working on becoming the first national grocery chain to offer full GMO transparency with its products. They’re trying to  identify any products containing genetically modified organisms and they want to keep them off their shelves. By this year, they will require every product sold as non-GMO to go through a verification process. The company has always encouraged anybody supplying products to them to put the items through a verification process, as well. Whole Foods hopes that by making this commitment to GMO transparency, it will encourage industry-wide transparency, with manufacturers and distributors asking the questions that need to be asked” Quoted from 

5 Examples of Companies Succeeding Through Transparency” by Jonha Richman,

This dedication to transparency by Whole Foods lets you know how serious they are about avoiding GMO’s in products they sell.  Why do they do this? Key Point: Full transparency in this area is important to their customer base. This is the primary reason any business would want to practice this principle.

There is one more contemporary business succeeding through transparency I want to share.

Patagonia a clothing  supplier is known for supply chain transparency. Richman reported, ”For outerwear company Patagonia, providing transparency throughout its supply chain means reducing any negative social and environmental impacts the company might have. Many companies have been caught off guard by information about the social and environmentally-unfriendly habits of its manufacturers or distributors. To avoid this, 

Patagonia takes a proactive approach, taking the responsibility on itself to make sure no harm is being caused in the making of its products. The project is called “Footprint Chronicles” and they display it to the general public through videos on the company’s website. Check it out, it’s good. The videos show each step of the supply chain, including all textile mills and sewing factories used in creating the item.” Richman

You’ll have to admit, this is real dedication to transparency around Patagonia’s commitment to social and environmental safety. Many customers are drawn to their business simply because of this commitment.

You can see how transparency can be a positive force for your business building efforts. It helps you clarify what you are doing. It also helps you simplify your Systems and processes so they can be communicated to others more effectively and efficiently. Transparency helps you get valuable input about ways to improve your business and keep it ahead in your industry. The big advantage is..It helps you promote trust with your customers. You may now be wondering: when is transparency NOT appropriate?

Santiago Iniguez describes what we should do: He reiterated.. “Ethan Bernstein’s article “The Transparency Trap” convincingly argues that complete transparency is not advisable, at least in three areas of a company’s activities.” These areas include innovation, experimentation, developmental processes and I have added,  distribution specifics. The niche you have in your industrsy must be protected. Sharing the all processes that make you unique are not an option.

Iniguez further suggests:

Business transparency is a matter of degree. You determine how much should be shared according to its usefulness. Internally, only the people involved or affected by the procedure or information should be involved. Publicly, only the information that can breed trust in your company should be shared. Examples: Whole    

Foods GMO policy or Patagonias’ supply chain transparency. They share a level of transparency that draws certain groups of customers.

Establish a balance between transparency and privacy,  both in relation to the workforce’s activities and individual and collective information. We live in a world where access to information about businesses and people, true and false, is universal and immediate. In such an environment, leaders can feel that they are permanently onstage.” Iniguez  As we build our businesses ,we need to use whatever processes available to always  respect people’s personal space.”

Be authentic with your transparency. “What counts in the final analysis is that when necessary the people running a company can reasonably justify their decisions,” This relates strongly to the Integrity of your business. Trust among customers, employees and other affiliates is greatly enhanced with a reasonable level of transparency.

Finally, here’s an interesting guide for how to build a reputation of business transparency from Chelsea Segal

“As you go about marketing your product to the general public, think about what values you expect your customers to have. Do you want them to care about speed and efficiency? About earning money? About doing good in the world? Whatever matters most to your customers, find a way to emphasize the way your brand delivers it. Then be as transparent as possible about specifically how you do it.. You’ll be amazed at the difference that one simple change can make.”

So, the idea is to get input from your customers for guidance on what should be transparent. A Super idea!

Business transparency is a state-of-the-art practice that can seriously enhance your business building process. So, carefully consider transparency as a Value for your growing twenty-first century enterprise.

More business success essentials in: “20 Directives for Small Business Success: Do or Die”

Easily accessible Business Building guides here: The GeniusCore Business Building Podcast

 

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Podcast #8 Transparency: A Business Building Enhancement Part 1

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I’m sharing another great Value for you to  build into your growing business. It’s another one I call a Super Value, introduced in episodes 2 and 3. Transparency is also one of the principles used by some of our greatest contemporary businesses. Without doubt, embracing this will add to your phenomenal business building success. You’ll see why as we go.

While you’re preparing for or improving your entrepreneurship, I’m sure you’ve run across the term”transparency” as it relates to business. Interesting questions you might ask are: how does that apply to you as you are building your new business? Why is transparency important? What are the benefits of business transparency? How is it done? What are the limits?

Larry Alton in”How Transparency Became a Top Priority for Businesses, and Why You Should Care” described what transparency means to the entrepreneur. He writes:

“Transparency in business requires entrepreneurs to remain open and informative about key points of information, including their business’s goals, history, performance and operations. And it’s a goal that’s risen in importance and continues to do so.”

He also shared a study by label insights:

According to a recent study by Label Insight, they study the labels on products and how people react to them. They found that up to 94 percent of consumers surveyed indicated that they were more likely to be loyal to a brand that offers transparency, while 73 percent said they were willing to pay more for a product that offers complete transparency”MUSIC

So fist let’s look at Why is transparency is important?

4 Reasons transparency is important:

1. Transparency is becoming more important to people in general. Think about your own experiences. We are drawn to people who are transparent. We are also drawn to businesses that are transparent. That is, we like to understand the nature of the entity we are dealing with. We like to relate to the person or business and know as much as we can about who they are and what their guiding principles are. What’s important to them.

Just think of the popularity of ratings and reviews when we are preparing to engage with a business or purchase  a product from a business. We like to know as much as we possibly can about the business or product before we get involved .

That’s because Transparency promotes trust. This bring us to the second reason Transparency is important.

2. Transparency promotes trust.

This is good to remember if you don’t remember anything else in this podcast. According to Integrity Solutions: “Customers and clients want to do business with a company that is trustworthy. When trust is at the core of a company, it’s easy to recognize. They [the customers] know you are reliable and capable. Over the long term, business success is dependent upon a network of positive relationships. Trust is invariably the critical component in enhancing business relationships and transparency builds trust.” We must have trust to grow our businesses.

3. People contributing to your business (workers, customers, investors and all affiliates) need to feel important to your business. Think about your team members.When team members understand the who, what, when, how, and why of a system, decision or requirement, it gives them the clarity and freedom to do their jobs or engage with your business in any way necessary. Your operations will be transparent. Nobody likes to work or contribute without knowing why and how their contribution fits in. That’s why, the more you can share with your customers, employees or other affiliates, the more comfortable they will feel when dealing with your business. This leads to the fourth reason transparency is important.

4. Public knowledge of your Purpose and Principles are important to success. In episodes 2 and 3 of my  podcasts, I talked about “the superiority of a Purpose Driven Business. Many people are drawn to the ideal of contribution to society. They like charity and philanthropy. You’ll notice many businesses tie purchases to company contributions.

Clear promotion of your Mission/Purpose and Values/Principles to everybody involved with your business will be the beginning of your practice of transparency.! That’s how you start it. Customers, investors, employees and others will begin to understand your business as you promote and practice your fundamental business building blocks, your Purpose and Values.

I think the best way for us to understand the importance of transparency is to look at some contemporary businesses applying this principle successfully.

In, “5 Examples of Companies Succeeding Through Transparency”

Jonha Richman, guest writer for Entrepreneur and Digital Marketer, shared:

“By being proactive in opening up its information, smaller businesses can establish relationships and avoid the mistrust that can happen when information is revealed after the fact.”

Here, I’m exploring 1 of the most popular transparent businesses Richman included in the article.

Buffer is known for open salaries. You’ve probably heard of them. They are a social media management company.

Buffer makes their Values/Principles well known by using different  methods to ensure everybody knows what their values are. The second principle on Buffers list of Values is “Default to transparency”. That let’s everybody know how important it is to them. The social media company applies this Value to every area of their business. One way the company has demonstrated its commitment to transparency is through revealing the salaries of employees throughout the organization. Through a publicly-available spreadsheet, Buffer has revealed the pay rate of every employee by name, from co-founder and CEO Joel Gascoigne (gascoin)to engineers, content crafters, and “happiness heroes”(customer service reps).

In addition to posting its salaries, Buffer also reveals the formula it uses to create these salaries. Each employee goes through a 45-day boot camp, then qualifies for a salary under the business’ formula,.The 4 factors in the formula are Salary, Job Type, Choice(profit sharing or salary addition), and the fourth is Loyalty( years in service). They use weighted values for some of these factors.  Buffers’ system is easily accessible on line. Check it out! It’s very interesting!

As your business grows and adds employees, this process is a great reference. Buffer shares where they got their base salaries and regional differences from, this could  be quite helpful to you.  This type of transparency also shows a level of fairness that reduces a lot employee frustration. When employees know the role factors like seniority and experience play in determining pay, those employees are more likely to understand when somebody else makes a higher salary than they do.

By the way, other businesses have understood the merits of Buffers’  formula and have adopted some form of this salary plan for themselves.  Buffer is also continuously improving their formula for determining salaries and delivering transparency in many areas of their business.

The people at Buffer shared a post about their salary formula: This was some ago but I’ll still share it.

“It’s been over 2 years since we first shared our transparent salary formula; we’ve been truly blown away by the response we’ve seen.” They received many positive responses from customers and other businesses who where intrigued by their processes.

Buffer  continually works on all of their operations, and continually strive to improve business the results.  Continuous improvement is best practice for any 21st century business.The bottom line is.. they make transparent whatever they think would help their customer. (Think about this practice. It’s key) For example, they are working on sharing Buffer’s pricing process, their real-time revenue, and of course, their Values and the changes they make to them. They’re also sharing their fundraising process and the level of diversity in their team makeups. The impact of their business practices has strongly influenced the business community. Will your business make such an outstanding impact?

Remember the four advantages of adopting transparency as a principle:

1.Transparency is becoming more important to everybody.

2. Transparency promotes trust. (You’ll have No repeat customers without trust)

3. It helps everybody involved in your business feel important to the success of your enterprise.

4. Public knowledge of your Purpose and Values is known through transparency. Your Purpose and Values attract a base of customers who share or believe in the Purpose and Values.

In my next episode, I’ll share one more contemporary transparent business, to help you get a deeper understanding of this principle and how it works.  We’ll continue to explore how it works in actual business operations. I’ll also describe the parameters of transparency.  There are times when transparency should not be used. Stay tuned for the full story.

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4 Top Characteristics of Super Successful Entrepreneurships

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With so much information available to us, there’s no reason we can’t be well informed about business building. A large percent of new businesses fail because the entrepreneurs are not aware of the skills they need to keep the enterprise afloat.

Most entrepreneurs have excellent skills in their profession and have enjoyed various levels of success. They have managed to schedule, prepare and provide their service or product in a way that has convinced them that starting a full fledged business is a great idea. However, the SBA reports that more than two-thirds of the 29 million startups fail each year. Something is seriously missing. Rather than looking at why these businesses fail, this article explores the reasons businesses succeed.

Jan B. King in “Top 10 Reasons Businesses Succeed” reported ten eye-opening reasons some businesses avoid becoming a fail statistic.

The first and most fundamental reason is ”The experience and skills of the top managers [owners] . Over half of business failures are directly related to managerial incompetence.”

We see the use of the term ‘management’, in thousands of articles and books. It actually means many different things according to whoever is using it. I like to refer to scientific or researched based findings for a definition of management. Frederick W. Taylor, in his works on scientific management offers the best definition of management as a science or set of skills.

“Scientific management [set of skills ] is a theory of management that analyzes and synthesizes workflows. Its main objective is improving economic efficiency, especially labor productivity.” Wikipedia

Considering Taylor’s conclusions, we can describe management as the responsibility for designing and executing a strategy with clear objectives, targets and deadlines. You also have the responsibility to design methods (systems), set standards, guide the performance of workers, and measure results. In addition, management includes hiring, training and promoting workers.  You will train and coach the appropriate employees required to successfully meet the objectives as described in the strategy. In other words, management is the organization and coordination of the activities of a business in order to achieve defined objectives. You will apply change management skills as you find the need for making the various types of changes to your established strategy and systems. People skills, such as communication and conflict management skills fall under the umbrella of scientific or skill based management. Management skills have been the focus of years of management research. Today we have time-tested and universal management skills available to managers because of this rigorous research. Of course, there will always be improvements in the discipline but basic business management skills will stay relatively the same. The best managers will continuously learn and improve their management skills.

A second reason new businesses succeed according to King is “The energy, persistence and resourcefulness (the will to make the business succeed) of the top managers.

Many business owners have failed or come close several times before their “instant” success. Don’t give up.”

This highlights the reason persistence and determination show up in all the results of business success studies.

A Purpose or Mission that you are passionate about will bring out the persistence and determination you need to get through the many problems you face as you grow your new business.

Md.Ashiqur Ran reported that “Albert Ellis was an American psychologist. Ellis said, ‘the art of love is largely the art of persistence’. Really, if you want to build something firstly you need to love it then love to do it again and again and it is the power of persistence. Persistence helps to conquer something invincible. ….The habit of persistence is the habit of success. Failure reminds us to be more persistent! It’s nothing.”

A third reason businesses succeed according to King: “A product that is at least a cut above the competition and service that doesn’t get in the way of people buying. There must be a compelling reason to buy; the product is great, the people love to provide service, and the buying experience is easy and fun.”

This reason implies the business has great Values or principles, excellent operating Systems, talented workers and customer empathy. The business enjoys values such as innovation, excellence, integrity, fun, and customer rapport. Successful businesses have also designed their Systems or operations and documented them to enable consistent application by all workers.

The workers share a belief in the Values and understand the significance of the customers

Probably the most important difference is the successful businesses have chose a product or service that is different or better than what has been available to their customers. They have found an innovative or creative way to be different and they continue to create and innovate.

King’s fourth reason businesses succeed: “The ability to create a “buzz” around the product with aggressive and strategic marketing. Make scarce marketing resources count. Do as much homework about your customers and their choices as you can before investing your marketing dollars.” There are many ways to market your business on a shoestring. The internet offers tremendous opportunities.Social media through blog posts is extremely popular and beneficial as well as you tube and podcasts. Many marketing tools are possible with a little research. Giving something away , personal appearances offering coupons and networking are just a few of the many ways you can market your new business. Uses as many as you can.

These are four primary reasons businesses succeed. If you have mastered these four steps, the rest is fairly easy. See King’s article for the rest to avoid being in the “fail’ statistic.

See more “success” ideas in: “20 Directives for Small Business Success: Do or Die”

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